I’ve had the best fun ever being a juror for the James Tiptree Jr. Award this past year, and it’s very exciting that now the news is out, we get to share our picks with everyone! We had such a wealth of material to read for this, which makes me feel very happy about the current state of the genre. Interrogating gender issues may not be something every SF or fantasy book does, but it feels like there’s a hell of a lot more out there than there used to be. (my groaning bookshelves attest to this)
The James Tiptree, Jr. Literary Award Council is pleased to announce that the winner of the 2011 Tiptree Award is Redwood and Wildfire by Andrea Hairston (Aqueduct Press, 2011). Hairston had already agreed to serve as a juror for the 2012 award. By a first-ever coincidence, she is also one of the Guests of Honor at this year’s WisCon, where the Tiptree Award is traditionally celebrated.
The James Tiptree Jr. Award is presented annually to a work of science fiction or fantasy that explores and expands gender roles. The award seeks out work that is thought-provoking, imaginative, and perhaps even infuriating. It is intended to reward those writers who are bold enough to contemplate shifts and changes in gender roles, a fundamental aspect of any society.
The Tiptree Award winner will be honored during Memorial Day weekend at WisCon in Madison, Wisconsin. Andrea Hairston will receive $1000 in prize money, a specially-commissioned piece of original artwork, and (as always) chocolate.
Each year, a panel of five jurors selects the Tiptree Award winner. The 2011 jurors were Lynne Thomas (chair), Karen Meisner, James Nicoll, Nisi Shawl, and Tansy Rayner Roberts.
Redwood and Wildfire was a favorite of the jurors from the moment they read it. They reported: “This vivid and emotionally satisfying novel encompasses the life of Redwood, a hoodoo woman, as she migrates from rural Georgia to Chicago at the turn of the 20th century. While Redwood’s romance with Aidan Wildfire is central to the novel, female friendship is also a major theme, without deferring to the romance. Hairston incorporates romantic love into a constellation, rather than portraying it as a solo shining star. Her characters invoke a sky where it can shine; they live and love without losing themselves in cultural expectations, prejudices and stereotypes, all within a lovingly sketched historical frame.
“Intersections of race, class, and gender encompass these characters’ entire lives. They struggle with external and internal forces around questions of gender roles, love, identity, and sexuality. This challenge drives how they move through the world and how it sees them. The characters in Redwood and Wildfire deftly negotiate freedom and integrity in a society where it’s difficult to hold true to these things.”